Affairs of the Wooden Plate

The festive season is rapidly approaching and it is time to prepare yourself for a well-deserved rest before making a fresh start in the New Year. It is around this time of the year one thinks about relationships and the joys of life.

We have a very special relationship with our simple wooden plates which we have treasured for many years but sometimes take for granted and fall out of love with. The love affair began 40 years ago when Ernst arrived in Germany and was introduced to his first "vessperbrett" as the Schwaebian folk of Germany know them. As young student from South Africa working the vineyards in his spare time to earn the extras, it was love at first sight – breakfast was cold meats and cheeses and freshly baked bread served from a round wooden plate at 9:00 am in the morning – all washed down with a glass of wine. Lunch and early-supper to follow served from the same plate. The inter-personal student relationship was close and comforting and they spent morning, noon and night together. Communication was intense and open – they understood each other's joys and sorrows and a relationship was born in blood, sweat and tears.

Gwenda visited four years later as a newly graduated and excited to be with her high school sweetheart. She was introduced to Ernst's closest companion – the wooden plate ... the circle of friends grew.

Moving to South Africa seemed to be no problem. As the family grew and friends became regulars in the Gouws home, we needed more wooden plates which were only be available in Germany around that time. Wine business trips to Germany became shopping excursions too.

Meanwhile life got busy and the dishwasher interfering sent the relationship plummeting. Familiarity turned to indifference. White became the fashion. We forgot about the comfort and warmth of natural wood – the relationship seemed doomed.

Until recently, when old friends became regulars at the dinner table once more. The grandchildren forced us to look at our beloved friends in a different way and we rediscovered the warmth and friendship built over 40 odd years. A few took some serious battering through the years, but are even more charming in their old age. Sometimes it is just for somebody else to tell you how precious familiar things are.

Like the revival of the wooden plates, the new modern circular design of the Ernst Gouws & Co label proved to be a great success and many old friends rediscovered our wines this year.

The cooperation between us, parents and the younger generation is fruitful and rewarding. Ezanne and Ernst Junior's enthusiasm and initiatives open new doors daily and although we battle many times to keep track with the latest technologies of Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, their input and knowledge is invaluable. However, the style of our wines remains typical of what Ernst is known for and gained reputation over many years – lots of fruit with a long finish – easy to enjoy with food or just as is, on its own.

We thank each and every one for keeping contact and being part of our lives especially those who joined the circle of friends recently.

 May you all experience the joy and comfort of true friendship! Cheers to life!




To celebrate the joy of living we share with you the allure of winter in the Boland – rain, cold, long evenings in front of the fireplace, hearty soups and venison; as the hunting season is upon us.


For the past 15 years the two  men in our lives - Ernst senior and Ernst junior (now 26) have escaped the cold, wet weather of the Boland on their annual father and son hunting trip.  It is not so much about hunting antelope but more about the many hours planning; the padkos, the journey of 10 hours in the bakkie (truck) to the north and the 4 – 5 days spent in the natural beauty that is Namibia.  Approximately 100 kilometres past Viooldrif (the border between South Africa and Namibia) they have, over the years, assembled a heap of stones which they call their monument.  Every year they stop at the same spot along the road in the middle of nowhere to stretch their legs and to finish off the last bit of padkos and empty the coffee flasks.   And every year they add another big stone to their secret heap and will sometimes even bring with a stone from the Boland.  They never forget to send a photo to the most important ladies in their lives whom they seemingly, miss very much.  Of course, there is always a very good reason why we are not invited.  Their main excuse – we have no interest in hunting and therefore do not want to come with!  So why bother asking! 

 When they return home – never let it be said that the fruits of their labour goes unappreciated – venison, biltong and boerewors to be handed out to all neighbours, family and friends.

We celebrate all our fathers and fathers-to-be in the hunting fields of South Africa and Namibia and wish all fathers a very special Father’s Day.  May you be spoilt rotten and loved to pieces!

 Cheers to the fathers

 The Gouws ladies



A circle represents a beginning with no end – an ongoing journey – and for me; family is the personification of the perfect circle in life. Members are bound together forever, with the various generations each making up smaller circles within the larger whole.

Our own family circle came to be in 1975, when Ernst’s dad sent him to Europe on a one-way ticket to learn the tricks of the winemaking trade at a wine college in Weinsberg, Germany. He was to conitnue the winemaking tradition that had been part in the Gouws family for many generations, and almost 30 years later, Ernst’s journey came full circle, when he fulfilled his lifelong dream of establishing his own wine label. The Ernst & Co label was launched in 2004 and our family proudly presented the classic oval-shaped label to the world.

Ten years later Inke, Ezanne and Ernst Jnr. have outgrown their kiddies’ shoes and, in true Gouws tradition, are pursuing their own winemaking dreams. Growing up in a family where mum and dad worked side by side building and realising their dream, it was inevitable that this dream would also became theirs. We are privileged to all live close together in the Cape Winelands and have regular opportunities to share a bottle of wine and have lengthy discussions about new trends in the winemaking world, whether it is wine styles, packaging or marketing trends. We may argue a lot, but we’ve found that a good glass of wine works wonders to cool down the tension. Over the years, wine has become our way of life – it is the glue that keeps our family circle together.


In a headstrong family like ours, where all members have very specific opinions on what is right and what is completely wrong, revamping the Ernst Gouws & Co label into a more modern, eye-catching design to fit into the new competitive wine industry seemed like an impossible feat. But, after many months of research, lengthy discussions and countless trials and errors, we can now proudly present to you our new circular Ernst Gouws & Co label.

The circle embodies a timeless brand that represents tradition and unity. These attributes have been translated into the circular copper-foiled labels bearing the proud and elegantly crafted family name of Ernst Gouws and Co.

Our flagship is all about family, authenticity and tradition and we welcome you once again into our world of quality wines. To learn more about our wines and our family, please visit the new online home of Ernst Gouws & Co. We would love to hear what you think about our wines, our website and our new labels, so please send us your comments via Twitter or Facebook, or simple send a quick note to We look forward to hearing from you!

Yours truly,

Gwenda Gouws